Deadly Defoliant Essay

935 words - 4 pages

As of March 2000, there were over 3 million victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam and the United States, including the children and their second and third generations. Since 1975, 303,600 U.S. soldiers that served in Vietnam have come forward with illnesses and serious conditions such as Diabetes, soft skin sarcoma, and Prostate Cancer due to Agent Orange exposure (“Cancer”). Unfortunately, the lifespan of an Agent Orange victim is sixty-five years (“Record”). Because its deadly effects, Agent Orange is considered the most dangerous herbicide administered during the Vietnam War.
“With the signing of the Geneva Peace Accords (May 1964), Vietnam was divided into two halves” (Daugherty 7). As a result, the United States took over the French side of Vietnam, calling it the “Republic of Vietnam” (Daugherty 7). Meanwhile in North Vietnam, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China created the Democratic Republic of Vietnam led by Ho Chi Minh (Daugherty 7). Even though economic and political support was given by the United States , “ the most visible sign of growing U.S. involvement in South Vietnam in the 1950’s was the increase of military advisors provided through the military assistance group” (Daugherty 7). Starting as early as 1950 and reaching its peak in March 1965, the U.S, Army, Navy, Air force, and Marines went to Vietnam to train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in warfare. As the Republic of Vietnam struggled to keeps its independence, in late 1957 North Vietnamese leaders agreed on a strategy to unify the county under the rule of Communism. After hearing about this plan, South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem strengthed his already authoritarian rule, which separated him from both his generals and the Buddisht majority living in South Vietnam. On November 2 1993, both Diem and his brother Nhu were brutally murdered by a militia led by his own general Doung Van Minh. Their assignation began a series of events that to the involvement of the U.S. combat troops. The U.S. and South Vietnam began to come up with plans to fight the North. One of those plans included using chemicals to get rid of hiding places of the enemy army (Daugherty 7)
Agent Orange has a very complicated chemical makeup. The actual compound is “a 50/50 mixture of two herbicides: 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T” (“Legacies”). 2, 4-D stands for 2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyaceacid, a commonly used household herbicide used in the United States today. It can be it can be identified as a colorless, odorless powder and it is also applied to roadsides, railways, and other utilities to remove plant overgrowth (“EPA Water”). Production of 2, 4, 5-T, however, has been discontinued since the 1970s because its toxic effects. During the distribution of Agent Orange, to get rid of hiding places of the “Viet Cong”, the US...

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